When we first started talking about the February issue’s theme—productivity—I felt uneasy. So often, people who call themselves “experts” in this field appear to have hyperactive disorders. I’m sure you’ve seen the type at business conferences: They are endlessly enthusiastic extroverts who exhort you to keep your energy up, up, up, all day, like aerobics teachers on steroids. They exhaust me.
I’m a creative person who works with other creative people. It’s intense, and I love it, but I need a lot of downtime. I head to the ladies’ room several times a day when there is no biological necessity. I literally need to sit, sometimes, and do nothing but breathe. And for a long time, I’ve felt like a wimp. Why can’t I just bounce from one high-intensity task to the next?
As it turns out, science says I’m more productive than those bouncers! Note to my boss: A study of high-performance subjects (musicians, athletes, chess players) found that the most they worked each day was 4½ hours. Any longer and they would just burn out. Another study showed that the most productive employees in a company also took the most breaks—on average, 17 minutes for every hour. It seems we all need time to renew and refresh ourselves before diving back into work.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need the rest room.